How Long is Forever?

They say there is no such thing as coincidence, so that is why I am publishing this blog again that I first published in 2016. Yesterday we visited Claydon House, a country house near Aylesbury, now owned by the National Trust. It is a place I love to visit, partly because of its connection with Florence Nightingale. Sir Harry Verney owned Claydon House and in 1857 came to know the Nightingale family. He married Florence’s sister and following the match, Florence became a regular visitor. She spent many years at Claydon, particularly in the summer. Walking through the gardens I noticed a sundial and took a picture of it for my Instagram page. Underneath I wrote a quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then, looking through this old post I noticed I’d written the same quote before. It got me thinking again about the passing of time …….

We have just returned home from five days in Devon. We seemed to pack a lot into those five days; travelling, walking and revisiting old haunts. The days were very full, both with a variety of winds and weathers, varying accommodation and, for me, very mixed emotions.

My parents moved to Devon when I was eight years old and we lived there until I was fourteen, so these were possibly the years that had a strong influence on my adult life; my formative years. It was in the early sixties, the era where the country saw a dramatic change. The first teenage generation to be free of conscription emerged in Britain, and young people were given a voice and a certain amount of freedom. I don’t think that freedom had quite filtered down to me though; I was shy, and had been an only child until I was thirteen when my lovely sister was born. But boy did I like the music of the era. I have just been looking at the top 100 most popular hits of 1963. They include The Beatles with ‘She Loves You’ and ‘From Me To You,’ ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ Gerry and The Pacemakers, ‘Summer Holiday.’ Cliff Richard, and ‘In Dreams’ Roy Orbison. Also on there are Billy Fury, Elvis, The Shadows, I could go on and on ……Who could ever regret being a ‘baby boomer’ with that pedigree of music in the background? Later in the sixties came ‘flower power’ and I remember wafting around Torquay harbour with bare feet wearing a dress with a psychedelic print and feeling like a ‘flower child,’ and a little bit hippie. ( If I am honest, I have always had mild hippie leanings ever since).

Himself was very patient and drove me round all the places I remembered from those long lost days. I found our old house and stood outside the drive and looked up to my old bedroom window. I was pleased to see the house looked loved and well cared for. At the bottom of the road, I stared at the field where I used to go sledging after school on my dad’s old wooden surf board, in the long frozen winter of 1962. How could this now be a mild slope? In my mind it was a tremendously steep hill that I whizzed down with my eyes closed in exhilarating terror.

I tried to remember the directions to my old school; I was sure I knew how to find it but called in at the local shop to check the directions. I was a bit upset to see this was housed in what was formerly the village hall where I had both attended Girl Guides and ballet classes. Gone was the old wooden floor and the pretty sash windows. Only the old pitched roof remained the same. It was now a rather hideously fronted mini supermarket. The guy inside was friendly and gave me directions. He talked about the area and said it had gone downhill, in fact, he called the town ‘feral’, which was sad to hear.

The way to school soon became familiar to me and before long I was standing outside the railings looking at the playground. It had hardly changed and I could almost hear the clang of the school bell calling us in to class. I remembered my stern teacher; ramrod straight, dressed in severe grey with hair in a tight bun, admonishing me for letting my brain ‘go to rust, Lynda!’ Later, though, she must have seen something in me, for she made me a prefect. I guess she was strict, but fair.

We drove around a bit and inevitably some parts of the place I knew so well had changed beyond recognition. The sweet little cafe on the slope up from the harbour and which my mother loved was long gone, and replaced by a betting shop. The small nursing home where my sister was born was now a private residence and the town had a more than shabby appearance.

Does our mind play tricks on us? Do we sometimes remember things differently than they really were? I once heard someone say we should never go back. Maybe I won’t again. But I wondered about my mother. I wondered what she was thinking on the days when she sat in the little cafe by the harbour. She was in her late thirties then. Full of life, full of plans. Really not knowing that before long our family would move and make a new life somewhere else. And then somewhere else again. I looked back and felt a huge wistfulness.

And what is it about time? Why is it that we can sit on a bench looking out to sea and look at the horizon and feel that we last sat there yesterday, when in reality it was fifty years ago? Where do all the thoughts and dreams from all those years ago really, really go? I know someone wise would say treasure every day. And I know that.We all say it so often. It rolls off the tongue every time we hear a bit of bad news. But time still passes, with the good times and the bad. There is more than just going back. There is remembering and taking time to remember. Time to think about what and who has gone before. Time to think about the times, the memories and the people who helped make us who we are. Time to reflect on the old ways that sometimes are lost with the new ways but have a funny way of being repackaged and becoming the next big thing!

Do you dwell on the past, live for today, or do you look to the future? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Alice: How long is forever?

White Rabbit: Just one second.

Lewis Carroll Alice In Wonderland

 

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.

Nathaniel Hawthorn

Blessings to you ….

 

What Can our Past Tell Us?

My blog is reflective this week, but as I write I am thinking about the importance of enjoying the smaller things in life, for they are often the most important….

The past is somewhere we can walk with our memories. Never with our footsteps..

Mimi Novic

This week has been rather strange and unsettling.

I have spent a lot of time over the last ten days sitting at my Father’s bedside as he has struggled with ill health. For most of us, this sort of situation fills us with all sorts of emotions and fears. To see a loved one suffering, especially someone who has been your parent, the one you have looked up to and who, previously was the one to look after you, is hard. Being in a hospital environment for any length of time soon reminds us that life is very tenuous and can change in the blink of an eye. Emerging from a particularly long visit it is hard to readjust to the outside world and it is strange seeing people going about their everyday lives.

It is interesting that last weekend I had a message out of the blue from an old school friend who wanted to contact on Facebook – a new group had been set up for those of us who had attended the school in Somerset back in the late 60’s. Once we had connected we started catching up on news, and messages were going to and fro for an hour or so. This set up a chain of events and more and more old friends joined in with new messages. As with any of these situations, there was news of how well some people had done, how some had drifted away and some had sadly died. Photos were posted and comments made about how well we had aged , (or not, as the case may be!) It was all interesting stuff and good to reconnect with people you hadn’t thought about for years, but it is very strange when one feels the years roll back and you revert back to being a teenager for a while in your mind. This for me, set me thinking about life and the passing of time. How can it be that so many years have passed and so much has happened along the way? How has it happened almost in the blinking of an eye?

             ‘Alice: How long is forever?

             White Rabbit : Sometimes, just one second.’

It is quite fitting in a way that these thoughts and memories from my past have occurred in the same week as my Father’s illness. It is almost as though the Universe is suggesting I look back a bit and perhaps take some comfort from earlier times. But does our personal history determine what happens in our lives now I wonder? I guess we are the writers of our own stories and the directors of our own lives. If we live in the past too much we are replaying the same old scenarios in our minds when we need to move forward from the energy of past events and into the now. Whatever our history, whatever mistakes or failure we have experienced, we are different people now but the good memories hopefully stay forever.

My blog is short and reflective this week – but as I write I am thinking about the importance of enjoying the smaller things in life, for they are often the most important – small everyday kindnesses, catching up with family and telling them you love them, not worrying about trivia and also not worrying about the big, worldwide situations you can’t change, no matter how much you want to.

I’d like to think about continuity too. I can take comfort from the contacts from the past because those long lost friends were responsible for making me the person I am now, even if in a small way. And, most importantly, when I look at my Father’s frail hands as he clasps mine, I feel the connection to my childhood days, and the times he lifted me with those same hands, high into the air to jump the waves on Polzeath beach.

  ‘But somewhere, running through your veins, The fragment of past life remains, And in future children, one day you’ll see, That somewhere, there’s a trace of me.’

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